The role of the media

To be cheesy and quote from Spiderman, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” And that is very true for those in the media to consider. I believe it is imperative for us to consider if what we are reporting contributes to the greater good of society. However, it also means that we should document life as we see it, and if it offends at times or people read too deeply into a situation and interpret a sign to mean something that it was never intended to mean, then we must stand by our reporting and not cower to the demands of the offended few.

When I first starting playing with the idea of becoming a journalist I watched a lot of interviews with Jeremy Scahill. Scahill is one of the founders of The Intercept, an online news publication. Scahill got his start while working for Democracy Now and moved on to The Nation shortly after. While working for The Nation Scahill reported on how Blackwater, a private mercenary group, committed war crimes in Iraq. He also went on to Yemen and reported on how the Obama administration was selling weapons to the Saudis who were in turn bombing villages in Yemen (this was longggg before the current fiasco of today).

The reason why I bring Scahill up is because of his ethics. In an interview with the CBC, Scahill laid out five of his guiding principles:

  1. Get your facts straight
  2. Provide people with information they can use to make an informed decision
  3. Give a voice to the voiceless
  4. Hold those in power accountable
  5. Stand with the poor and the oppressed

I have used these five principles often in helping guide my reporting. I try to seek out who is being left behind in society and advocate for them in a journalistic way. I try to find the root of their problems and find the people who are offering solutions. All the while trying to highlight what the barriers are and who stands in the way.

This fits into the examples laid out in the readings Deidre provided for us in the description to this assignment. It fits into Enrique Dussel’s theory about the Ethics of Liberation.

“The ethics of liberation does not seek to be an ethics for a minority, nor only for exceptional times of conflict and revolution. It aspires instead to be an ethics for everyday life, from the perspective and in the interests of the immense majority.”

5 thoughts on “The role of the media

  1. I really liked your post. It is very true, we as journalists have a lot of responsibility and it’s important to understand that and run with it. I deeply relate to your first paragraph. DEEPLY! I like your 5 principles as well! It really speaks to the type of journalist you are and the type you’re striving to be.

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  2. Solid post Freddy. I didn’t know Scahill’s five guiding principles before your post but I agree with each of them and respect the ambition.

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  3. Great post. Scahill’s five principles seem like great morals that all journalists should have. It’s important for journalists to do good with the power that they have.

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  4. Perfect. Thanks for posting these and for living them out in your own work.

    Get your facts straight
    Provide people with information they can use to make an informed decision
    Give voice to the voiceless
    Hold those in power accountable
    Stand with the poor and the oppressed

    Interesting to compare the simplicity of these with the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics: https://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp.

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  5. Journalism truly is a tool for the voiceless. Historically, journalists have always tried to carry out the principles talked about in the ethics of liberation. Specifically, I think back to the post we had earlier this semester regarding the Black Press. While they didn’t necessarily write to give people the ability to make informed decisions due to their slant, and they didn’t necessarily have too much of an impact on holding leaders accountable as they were outside of the main stream, the Black Press was instrumental in ensuring that it’s constituents voices were heard. The goal was to ensure that representation was achieved, and it set trends for future papers to take on the mantle and push it into the main stream after the civil rights era. At the end of the day, the ethics of liberation implores that news tellers work to ensure that the most oppressed and impoverished have the opportunity to ensure that the interests of these people is at the forefront of the discussion.

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